Monday, July 14, 2003

Chris Suellentrop - Should Dean be afraid of the Internet (

Talk about a forced analogy:

Peer-to-Peer Politics – Should Howard Dean be a little bit afraid of the Internet? By Chris Suellentrop

What did file swappers do after Napster went down? They turned to Gnutella, a system that doesn’t require a central broker. Dean wants to be Napster, but his supporters are more like Gnutella: They don’t need to go through Dean to connect with one another.

I’m not sure I follow. Suellentrop is trying to say that Napster failed because it required a central server. And Gnutella has succeeded because it doesn’t require a central server.

Actually, Napster failed because it ultimately fostered illegal activity, and the people most harmed by that illegal activity had deeper pockets than Napster did.

While I think Suellentrop’s underlying message — that the lessons from the Dean campaign will fundamentally rewrite campaigning as we know it — is perfectly sound, I think he’s vastly understating the support Dean enjoys among his supporters.

I’ll be the first to admit that I could be wrong (and it will be interesting to revisit this prediction next spring and in November, 2004), but I’m convinced that the Dean popularity is not because of the Internet, it’s because of his message. The Internet simply lets others feel like they’re a part of that message. It’s that very participation that makes the difference.


  1. I found this article amusing, because I know the person quoted in the Star Tribune, and she is a pretty hard-core Dean supporter.

    The point she was trying to make is that the campaign isn't officially involved in Minnesota yet, so we kinda have to do our own thing.

  2. A better point to take from this: we don't need a central broker to run Congressional campaigns. If you have a Democrat representing you in Congress, and if they caved in to BushCo, you know now that 1) you don't need $2,000 donors to run against them, 2) you don't need media connections to get the word out, 3) you don't need DLC approval to raise a ruckus. All you need is a compelling message.

    Democrats in Congress should fear Howard Dean not because he's another George McGovern -- Dean will bring out more of the base than any other candidate -- but because Howard Dean has reminded us that we do have the power to remove even entrenched encumbents. Shoe leather, mousepads, and wits.

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